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A Year Later, Puerto Ricans Face Death In The Wake Of Maria

A house in Guaynabo, which was completely leveled by Hurricane Maria, still sits in ruin one year after the storm. Photo by Jesse Costa for WBUR

A house in Guaynabo, which was completely leveled by Hurricane Maria, still sits in ruin one year after the storm. Photo by Jesse Costa for WBUR

Candido Reyes and Luz María Muñiz found love late in life — she in her 50s, he in his 60s — but at least they had found what some people never find. He told her he loved her more than God, and he believed it to the point that he apologized for it in his prayers.

“[My stepfather] spent so much time telling people about how in love he was,” said Debora Perez, a Stoneham resident whose mother lives in the town of Sabana Seca, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. “He kept telling people at church and strangers.”

When Hurricane Maria hit — a year ago Thursday — Perez said she was desperate to know how her mother was doing, but cell service was nil.

“Once the reports started coming in about like flooding in Toa Baja, where my mom and my grandma are, that’s when the real terror hits you,” she said.

“[Media reports] are talking about drownings, they’re talking about people who have been caught up in mudslides. And so you start to really fear that something will happen to your family — or something has happened.”

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